TRACES Technology Research for Augmenting Creativity in Educational Spaces

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We focus on co-design partnerships with educators in creative learning and project based learning contexts. We collaboratively design learning technologies by bringing together an interdisciplinary team across HCI, design, architecture, educational research and computing. This group focuses on finding opportunities and addressing problems of practice in real-world learning by innovating with low-cost, emerging technologies. We currently focus on creative documentation and evidence collection, and creativity support tools for novices to learn physical computing.

Current Projects

Three components of the SDL Kit - a poster, upload form, and timeline visualization

MakerCards: are an instructional and creativity support toolset for introductory physical computing courses. It builds on a QR-code enabled card deck illustrating electronic parts and categories linked to an online knowledge base to help bridge access to creative know-how. Through deployment in five courses, we found the MakerCards+ system to be a versatile resource for learning to recognize electronic components; enhanced communication in early designs and in debugging; and an aid in schematic diagramming.

Three components of the SDL Kit - a poster, upload form, and timeline visualization

SDL Evidence Collection Kit is a hybrid documentation toolkit for high school students that spans home to school settings. The SDL curriculum offers students a flexible, and interest-driven learning experience where students pursue various competency-based micro-credentials which they earn by collecting evidence of progress and learning. The SDL documentation poster kit integrates a visual progress tracker linked to a digital system for uploading, tagging, explaining, and curating evidence. The kit was deployed in Spring 2021 to over 60 students.

Image of a mind map drawn by a participant in the Probing Documentation Practice study

Probing Documentation Practices: Using a research-through-design approach, we have deployed a design probe to examine students’ current understanding, contexts, values, and experiences with documentation and its integration with technology, space, and education. It unfolds as a series of five activities completed over a one-week period. It helps reveal how students have been navigating documentation practices and how students share common values in how documentation connects with deeper learning processes.

People and Affiliates

Lead Faculty

  • Marti Louw, Director, Learning Media Center, Human-Computer Interaction Institute
  • Daragh Byrne, Associate Teaching Faculty, School of Architecture


  • Sara Longo, Project Manager, Human Computer Interaction Institute
  • Chris Bartley, Research Programmer, Robotics Institute
  • Talia Stol, Research Associate, Learning Research & Develpoment Center, University of Pittsburgh
  • Peter Wardripp, Assistant Professor of STEAM Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • 2021: Aastha Patel, Masters of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS)
  • 2021: Anjali Kanodia, B.Architecture, CMU
  • 2021: Min Kyoung Lee, Masters of Design, CMU
  • 2021: Perry Naseck, BA School of Art, CMU
  • 2020-2021: Miso Demko, BA Social and Decision Sciences, CMU
  • 2019-2021: Ricky Chen, BA. Design, CMU
  • 2019-2021: Miranda Luong, BA. Design, CMU
  • 2020: Patricia Yu, B.A. Design, CMU
  • 2020: Natalia Zeller MacLean, Cornell
  • 2019-2020 Elizabeth Han, BA. Design, CMU
  • 2019-2020 Eric Gan, BSc. Computer Science, CMU
  • 2017-2019: Wei Wei Chi, Master of Computational Design, CMU
  • 2017-2019:Jean Zhang, BSc. Mechanical Design
  • 2018-2019: Alice Fang, Design, CMU
  • 2019: Shirley Zhou, BSc. Information Systems.
  • 2019: Emily Chan, Harvard
  • 2017-2018: Francis Carter, PhD in Design
  • 2017-2018: Samantha Weaver, MA, METALS, CMU

Practice Partners


  • Miranda Luong., Byrne D., Louw, M. (Forthcoming). Maker Cards. Book chapter for ‘Creative Resilience: Lessons from artists & designers for an uncertain future’ by Kelly M. Murdoch-Kitt (University of Michigan) and Dr. Denielle J. Emans (Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar). Under Review.

  • Ricky Chen, Mychajlo Demko, Daragh Byrne, and Marti Louw. 2021. Probing Documentation Practices: Reflecting on Students’ Conceptions, Values, and Experiences with Documentation in Creative Inquiry. Creativity and Cognition. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 32, 1. DOI:

  • Miranda Luong, Daragh Byrne, and Marti Louw. 2021. MakerCards: Designing An Electronic Component Discovery Tool to Support Remote Physical Computing Education. Interaction Design and Children. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 476–482. DOI:

  • Byrne, Daragh, and Marti Louw. “Tools with Histories: Exploring NFC-Tagging to Support Hybrid Documentation Practices and Knowledge Discovery in Makerspaces.” In International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, pp. 51-67. Springer, Cham, 2020.


  • CIRCLS’21: “Two Cases of Documentation for Learning: MakerCards and the SDL Evidence Kit” was accepted for presentation on Sept 13 & 14 as part of the Roundtable and Gallery Walk Sessions.

  • 2021 Play Make Learn Conference: “Exploring Documentation for Learning” was presented by Daragh Byrne on Thursday, August 5.

  • Connected Learning Symposium 2021: Conlon, L, Keller, A., Zacharias, R., Wardrip, P., Stol, T. Byrne D., Louw, M. (2021). Four CoDesign Cases of Documentation for Learning. Connected Learning Summit 2021. July 9th 2021. Virtual Event. July 9th.

  • Remake Learning Days: Luong, M., Byrne D., Louw, M, Zacharias, R. (2021). Maker Cards in Physical Computing Spaces. Remake Learning Days. Friday May 14th 2021.

  • Remake Learning Days: Conlon, L, Keller, A., Chen, R., Luong, M., Stol, T. Byrne D., Louw, M. (2021). Self Directed Learning at Quaker Valley: Sharing a case study in designing documentation and evidence collection in project- based learning contexts. Remake Learning Days. Friday May 14th 2021.

Funding and Grants

  • National Science Foundation. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. IIS-1736189 ‘Smart Spaces for Making: Networked Physical Tools to Support Process Documentation and Learning’.